A VENGEFUL Rain or Shine played with greater resolve on both ends of the floor to hand Alaska a 99-87 whipping and even their PBA Governors Cup semifinal series at 1-1 on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Paul Lee and Jeff Chan provided the fireworks all game long to support import Arizona Reid as the Elasto Painters tore the game apart in a decisive third-quarter run to reduce the series into a best-of-three affair.
“Everybody just stepped up for Gabe (Norwood) and we’re trying to buy some time for Gabe to get well,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said after the game.
Norwood, the 6-5 Fil-Am guard, sat out Game Two due to an ankle sprain he sustained during the early part of the fourth quarter in the series opener which Alaska won, 97-93.
Even without Norwood, Rain or Shine’s top lockdown defender against Alaska import Henry Walker, the Elasto Painters still dominated a rugged encounter marred by a couple of physical skirmishes.
In the end, it was Alaska which lost its cool.
Walker was called for a flagrant foul for shoving Beau Belga after a rebound battle while Gabby Espinas was ejected after being slapped with successive technicals for shouting at the referee over a non-call.
Both incidents came at a critical time for Alaska - Walker's flagrant foul at a time when Rain or Shine was pulling away to a 60-42 lead while Espinas' technicals knocked the wind off an Alaska rally.
Guiao expressed his dismay over what he described was a “lenient” call by the game officials on Walker.
“Just something that I thought was an ejection foul on Walker. I think they (referees) were just too lenient on him,” said Guiao.
“He (Walker) attacked Beau when the replay showed that Beau was just doing a normal basketball play. It wasn’t even that physical, but he was just off balanced,” he added.
“I think that’s (Walker’s shoving Belga) dangerous and it could have sparked something in the game.”
The Aces made a run to cut the Elasto Painters’ once-imposing 26-point to lead to just nine points, 85-76, but Lee’s two three-pointers inside the final four minutes proved to be the backbreaker.
Reid led the Elasto Painters with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Lee and Chan finished with21 and 18 points, respectively.
Vic Manuel led the Aces with 22 points six rebounds, while Walker, who sprained his right arm during the first half, finished with 18.
Game Three is set on Tuesday.
Rain or Shine 99 - Reid 27, Lee 21, Chan 18, Tiu 10, Belga 7, Arana 6, Teng 4, Cruz 2, Almazan 2, Nuyles 2, Ibanes 0, Rodriguez 0.
Alaska 87 - Manuel 22, Walker 18, Casio 11, Thoss 9, Espinas 8, Abueva 8, Hontiveros 3, Baguio 3, Dela Cruz 2, Buenafe 2, Jazul 1, Bugia 0, Reyes 0, Belasco 0.
Quarterscores: 17-21, 50-38, 77-59, 99-87